By Anuradha Gandhi and Isha Sharma
TikTok, a widely acclaimed short form video app, has gained immense popularity for its user friendly interface, setting it apart in the realm of social media. However, despite its widespread recognition, TikTok has consistently found itself in the midst of controversies, particularly related to concerns leading to its ban imposed by several countries, including India. Numerous nations had already taken measures to ban the app, citing concerns ranging from data privacy to national security.
TikTok’s journey has been marked by its meteoric rise to fame and concurrent challenges. The app’s ban in several countries has stemmed from apprehensions about data security, potential misuse of user information, and in some instances geopolitical tensions. Joining this trend, Nepal recently added its name to the list of countries banning TikTok, adding to the growing global debate surrounding the app’s operations.
Nepal’s Bold Move:
In a surprising turn of events, Nepal recently imposed a ban on the Chinese owned app TikTok, citing concerns that its content was detrimental to social harmony. This decision followed the introduction of a new rule requiring social media firms to establish liaison offices in the country. The move aligns with a growing trend, with earlier instances of TikTok’s bans in the United States and the United Kingdom.
The ban in Nepal was prompted by Minister for Communications and Information Technology Rekha Sharma, who expressed concerns about TikTok spreading malicious content. She highlighted the consistent use of the platform to share content that disrupts social harmony, family structures and social relations. 
The ban comes in the wake of more than 1600 TikTok-related cybercrime cases registered in Nepal over the last four years, as reported by local media.
Emphasizing the severity of the issue, it was stated that the ban would be implemented immediately, with telecom authorities directed to enforce the decision.
In response to the ban in Nepal, TikTok has not provided an immediate comment on this matter, maintaining its stance that such bans are misguided and rooted in misconceptions.
Interestingly, videos discussing the ban on TikTok received thousands of views shortly after the decision was made public. However, opposition leaders in Nepal criticized the move, asserting that it lacked effectiveness, maturity and responsibility.
As the ban on TikTok in Nepal reflects broader global concerns about the impact of social media platforms, it raises questions about the role of such apps in shaping societal dynamics and the effectiveness of bans in curbing their influence.
The Wave of Ban in India
In a strategic move driven by data privacy and national security concerns, the Indian government implemented a comprehensive nationwide ban on TikTok in June 2020, alongside dozens of other Chinese apps, saying they were “prejudicial to the sovereignty and integrity of India, defence of India, security of state, and public order”.
The decision, rooted in apprehensions about data security and potential threats to national interests, marked a pivotal movement in the global debate surrounding the influence of such apps. The Indian government said the decision to ban the apps was “to protect the data and privacy of its 1.3 billion citizens” and to put a stop to technology that was “stealing and surreptitiously transmitting user’s data in authorised servers outside India.”
India’s ban set off a chain reaction worldwide, with other countries expressing similar apprehensions, including but not limited to Afghanistan, Australia, Belgium, Denmark, etc.
- Recently, in August 2023, Somalia’s government imposed a ban on TikTok alongside other social media apps to limit the spread of indecent content and propaganda being used by terrorists, as stated by its communications minister.The government said terrorist groups are using platforms like TikTok and Telegram to spread “horrific images and misinformation to the public”.
- Earlier, this year, Montana became the first US state to ban TikTok, and the UK Parliament prohibited its use within its network.
- In March 2023, French government announced a ban on the “recreational” use of TikTok, Twitter, Instagram and other apps on government employee’s phones citing concerns about insufficient data security measures.
- The Canadian and British government had also banned this Chinese-owned app on all government issued mobile devices due to concerns pertaining to security issues.
The TikTok ban underscored the growing emphasis on data privacy and user security in the digital realm. It prompted a reevaluation of existing frameworks and underscored the urgency of adapting regulations to the rapid advancements in digital technology, ensuring greater transparency from tech platforms regarding user privacy, data security, and the responsibilities of tech platforms in the evolving digital era.
The TikTok has also been subjected to fine earlier by the European Union regulator for violation of data privacy rules, particularly pertaining to processing of children’s personal data. In case you are interested to read more on our article on “TikTok’s Liability: Violation of Children’s Data”, kindly click on the following link: https://ssrana.in/articles/tiktoks-liability-violation-of-childrens-data/
New Advisory Issued to Social Media Intermediaries in India
Amidst a growing surge in the misuse of social media, a trend exacerbated by the proliferation of deepfakes, the central government of India had recently issued a noteworthy advisory. This directive is specifically targeted at significant social media intermediaries, acknowledging the critical need to address the challenges arising from deceptive and manipulative content circulating on these platforms.
The government, in its advisory, has specified that these platforms must not only prevent the spread of misinformation but also swiftly remove such content within a tight timeframe of 36 hours upon receiving a report from either a user or a government authority. Failing to adhere to this advisory invokes rule 7, empowering aggrieved individuals to take legal action against platforms under the provisions of the Indian Penal Code. 
This development signals a heightened awareness of the potential threats posed by the misuse of social media and the urgent need for platforms to take proactive measures. The government’s emphasis on swift content removal and legal repercussions underscores the gravity of combating misinformation in the digital space. As online platforms play an increasingly pivotal role in shaping public discourse, their responsibility to curb the dissemination of false information becomes paramount for safeguarding societal harmony and individual rights.
The TikTok’s journey from a global sensation to the subject of ban in various countries reflect the intricate dynamics between technology, data privacy and national security. The app’s popularity has made it a focal point for discussions on the responsible use of social media platforms and the need for robust regulations in the digital age. The unfolding story of TikTok’s bans adds a new chapter to the ongoing narrative of social media governance, leaving users, creators and industry watchers alike with a keen interest in the app’s future.